Fire Station 60 reopening celebration set for Saturday

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Canyon Lake City Council and city staff invite residents to celebrate the reopening of Fire Station 60 tomorrow from 9 to 11 a.m. at the fire station, 28730 Vacation Dr. The celebration will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony, appearances by city and county officials, speeches, cake, refreshments and station tours. The firefighters of Station 60 will be on hand to meet and greet guests.

According to Canyon Lake Administrative Services Manager Mike Borja, appearances will be made by Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins, Riverside County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Jefferies, Glenn Miller from the office of Senator Jeff Stone, Katelyn Blackmere from the office of Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, Mayor Randy Bonner and Canyon Lake City Council members.

“We encourage the citizens of Canyon Lake and members of the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association to join us on this special Fire Station 60 reopening day. It is a significant accomplishment to have Fire Station 60 reopened after being closed for two years. This is particularly important for the north and west sections of Canyon Lake where responses were 10 to 12 minutes while Station 60 was closed – much greater than five minutes or less of the standard acceptable response time,” said Canyon Lake Mayor Randy Bonner.

“Appreciation needs to be extended to the 2015-2016 City Council, under Mayor Tim Brown, for giving the City Manager a target for a July 1, 2017, reopening. Current Councilmember Larry Greene, retired Fullerton Fire Chief, City Manager Aaron Palmer and Aaron’s father (with extensive fire safety experience) put a plan together which became reality. A special thank you to County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries who spearheaded two-persons on the fire engine to get it reopened, both firefighters, but one also a paramedic. That is common to the City of Calimesa with similar populations.”

Mayor Pro Tem Vicki Warren said, “I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from the community about the reopening of the fire station. I welcomed the firefighters back personally already and I’m really looking forward to welcoming them as a community. I hope to see many Canyon Lakers on Saturday.”

Councilwoman Dawn Haggerty said she is thrilled that Fire Station 60 is reopening. “I ran and was elected to the City Council based on campaigning for improved public safety – both police and fire. I had hoped to have the city develop its own police department and based on numbers developed, it could be done at a savings. However, we just didn’t have the funds for start up costs at that time. Also, our fire contract issues were on the front burner. After a tumultuous couple of years, we have finally resolved the problems and Station 60 is open with a paramedic 24-hours a day, seven days a week. I am thrilled, “ Dawn said.

Chief Carter, the captain of Station 60 from August 2002 until it closed in July 2015, has returned to the station.

“I’m excited to see it open again and pleased that Captain Brent Carter is coming back to the station,” said Jordan. “It’s a big pleasure to see Station 60 reopen. It’s been my number one priority since the station closed.”

Councilman Larry Greene said, “I’m glad the station is back open. I believe our response times are less and that makes our community safer. I hope to see all Canyon Lake residents at the ribbon-cutting on Saturday.”

Reopening the station comes at a cost of $1.4 million. “It’s a substantially lesser cost than the $2.1 million it was headed before the station closed,” said the mayor pro tem.

Fire Station 60 reopened July 3, two years after it closed its doors after a dispute with county fire officials over the cost of services. On May 9, the Board of Supervisors approved a new one-year fire protection contract for the City of Canyon Lake. The agreement allows the station to operate with a two-person crew for one year.

Starting July 2018, County officials will require the station to operate with a three-person crew. Canyon Lake City Council will have six months to decide if it will bump up to a three-person crew or terminate the contract at the end of 12 months.

If the city decides to not bump up to a three-person crew, the contract will be terminated in 12 months and Canyon Lake will have to create its own city fire department or close the station and contract with nearby cities to provide services again.

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Donna Ritchie